Sunday, April 15, 2007

Scarlet Lily Beetle Arrives In Sunny Derbyshire

I found one of these on a rosemary bush yesterday afternoon. This little fellow looks so pretty, so red and those little black legs set off it's shiny wings beautifully. It's also one of the most determined and destructive garden pests, the scarlet lily beetle, Lilioceris lilii. Both the parent beetle and its brown grubs feed on the stems, leaves, buds and flowers of lilies and fritillaries. It is native to parts of Eurasia. It is known to have been introduced to Britain and Canada in the 1940s, possibly on imported lily bulbs. It is now a pest in much of southern England. The adults are active from late March or April to autumn. In spring they lay small groups of reddish brown eggs from which the grubs emerge. The grubs cover themselves with their wet, black excrement and often feed in groups, eating the leaves from the tips back to the stem. You can spray them, better to pick the adult beetles off and crush them under your boot. A satisfying crunch for this revolting pest.

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